RED SKELTON Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Name: Richard Bernard Skelton                                                           
Born: 18 July 1913                                                                     
Vincennes, Indiana                                                                     
Died: 17 September 1997 Palm Springs, California                                       
Richard Bernard "Red" Skelton (July 18, 1913 - September 17, 1997) was an               
American comedian who was best known as a top radio and television star from           
1937 to 1971. Skelton's show business career began in his teens as a circus             
clown and went on to vaudeville, Broadway, films, radio, TV, clubs and casinos,         
while pursuing another career as a painter.                                             
Born in Vincennes, Indiana, Skelton was the son of a Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus           
clown named Joe who died in 1913 shortly before the birth of his son. Skelton           
himself got one of his earliest tastes of show business with the same circus as         
a teenager. Before that, however, he had been given the show business bug at age       
ten by entertainer Ed Wynn, who spotted him selling newspapers in front of the         
Pantheon Theatre, in Vincennes, Indiana, trying to help his family. After buying       
every newspaper in Skelton's stock, Wynn took the boy backstage and introduced         
him to every member of the show with which he was traveling. By age 15, Skelton         
had hit the road full-time as an entertainer, working everywhere from medicine         
shows and vaudeville to burlesque, showboats, minstrel shows and circuses. While       
performing in Kansas City in 1930, Skelton met and married his first wife, Edna         
Stillwell. The couple divorced 13 years later, but they remained cordial enough         
that Stillwell remained one of his chief writers.                                       
Skelton caught his big break in two media at once: radio and film. In 1938 he           
made his film debut for RKO Radio Pictures, in the supporting role of a camp           
counselor in Having Wonderful Time, Two short subjects followed for Vitaphone in       
1939: Seeing Red and The Bashful Buckaroo. Skelton was hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer     
to lend comic relief to its Dr. Kildare medical dramas, but soon he was starring       
in comedy features (as inept radio detective "The Fox") and in Technicolor             
musicals. When Skelton signed his long-term contract with MGM in 1940, he               
insisted on a clause that permitted him to star in not only radio (which he had         
already done) but on television, which was still in its early years; studio             
chief Louis Mayer agreed to the terms, only to regret it years later when               
television became a serious threat to the motion picture industry.                     
In 1945, he married Georgia Davis; the couple had two children, Richard and             
Valentina; Richard's childhood death of leukemia devastated the household. Red         
and Georgia divorced in 1971, and he remarried. In 1976, Georgia committed             
suicide by gunshot. Deeply wounded by the loss of his ex-wife, Red would abstain       
from performing for the next decade and a half, finding solace only in painting